A dry run for COVID-19 vaccination will be conducted by all state and union territory administrations on January 2 to test the delivery systems required to inoculate millions of people starting January.
The tests comes as the apex drug regulator on Thursday hinted that approval for a vaccine can be granted soon and said the country will have a “happy new year with something in hand.”
The assurance from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) comes ahead of a crucial meeting of the expert panel on emergency use vaccine authorization, which is set for Friday. The panel will consider the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech vaccines, and Pfizer will also make a presentation.
"Probably we will have a happy New Year with something in hand. That is what I can hint at,” DCGI Dr VG Somani said.
The dry run will check everything from technology platforms to the storage infrastructure that will be required for the vaccination drive. The Centre said it will identify linkages between planning and implementation and any other challenge. The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites.
For each of the three session sites, the concerned medical officer In-charge will identify 25 test beneficiaries (healthcare workers). The States and UTs have been asked to ensure that the data of these beneficiaries is uploaded in Co-WIN.
Some states will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support, while Maharashtra and Kerala are likely to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their capital, the Union Health Ministry said.
“The objective of the dry run for COVID-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation. This is also expected to give confidence to programme managers at various levels,” the ministry said.
The central government has also asked all states and UTs to ensure effective preparedness for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness at session sites for COVID-19 vaccination with principal secretaries (Health) and other health administrators of all states and UTs through video-conferencing.